We know video is important. It helps sales conversion and there is so much we can do with video, more and more people are creating videos to help brand and sell.

Whether you are new to video marketing or if you have been doing it a while, there is one thing that really distinguishes your video from the rest, and that is audio. I have seen videos created with DSLR’s, iPhones, androids or even screen capture software, and the one thing that always stands out, is the audio quality.

Tinny Sound

You know you have listened to those videos with that tinny sound that makes you want to pull the headphones out of your ears. That is because they are normally using either the phone, cameras or computers microphones, and frankly they are horrible.

Tons of Options

Now there are tons of options to choose from when it comes to microphones to use. And unfortunately, I can’t test all of them, but after doing this for almost two years now, I have a set of criteria to help you decide.

Starter Microphone Requirements

Good Sound Quality
Obviously, this is number one. And just about any decent after market microphone is going to give you a good quality sound. In fact, one microphone I use is the Blue Snowball with a pop shield.

I have had many customers comment on the quality of the sound in the videos I make for them (explainers mostly).

Portability
Most of the quality USB microphones are not extremely portable. The Blue Yeti which is very popular is humongous. It’s not really designed for portability and I have a hard time taking my blue snowball into a client site to use for testimonials and other work. Others are smaller but have fairly flimsy tripods.

Zoom H4N compared to Blue Snowball

Ability to Grow with it
This is where 99% of the USB microphones start to fall down. While my blue snowball works great with my Mac and Windows Machines, I do need an adapter to let it work with my iPad.

But, as you get further into video, you will discover that your USB microphone will let you down. It can work as a directional/shotgun type of microphone, but only if you are recording directly into your computer. But I filmed an interview for a client of mine, and I could not use it, since I was using both an iPhone and DSLR to record them.

You also have no ability to plug lapel mics into it or use it for roving video creation. You know the ones, where you are sitting at the beach or riding your skateboard down the board walk.

Finally, it has no internal recording. In reality, it is a dumb object that feeds sound into your computer or keyboard.

Is there a solution?

You bet there is, and it is not even that expensive, especially when you hear all it will do. In fact, I wish someone had told me about this before I spent the money on other audio equipment since this thing kills it.

I am talking about the Zoom H4N Sound Recorder. Now, I know many of you have seen others talking about this or similar devices, but let me tell you why this thing is so amazing.

The beauty of this device is the number of ways you can use it so you can grow into it as your needs grow.

Audio Everything
So this device, well frankly I am amazed at the functionality of this device. I have used this thing for so many audio applications, it is absolutely crazy.

Shotgun Mic
It works great as a shotgun mic. In fact, I had bought a Shure Shotgun mic that didn’t sound as good as this and didn’t have all the controls to adjust gain and everything. It is a shame as the Shure is a nice mic but I don’t use it anymore. I use the Zoom as my shotgun mic now.

Wireless Lapel
Now, you can use this in two different ways. Spend $25 on a decent wired lapel to plug into the back and you have a portable wireless mic that you can sync up during editing.

Or, if you have the budget and need multiple lapel mics, this device will let you plug two mics in via XLR. Because I have clients paying for it, I bought a nice Sennheiser G3 unit, and it will plug directly into the XLR inputs

USB Mic
Most people don’t realize, if you keep the device turned off and plug it into your computer, it gives you an option to use it as a USB, microphone. The audio quality is as good as my Blue Snowball and because it has a wind shield, I don’t need a pop shield in front of it.

Call Recorder
I did some over the phone training for a restaurant client of mine. I used the Zoom, plugged into my iPhone (there is an adapter you need to go into the mic/headphone jack) to record the entire conversation. With your iphone you can conference in between 5 and 6 other calls. I then took it off the internal memory card, edited it and placed it on Amazon S3 for them to listen to as well as created powerpoint videos with the call overlayed.

Portability
It is ultra portable as well. Look at the size of it compared to my Blue Snowball. And because it comes with a windshield, you don’t need to buy a separate pop shield. About the only thing you need to do is get a small little tripod or, you can just stack it on top of books.

You should buy the Zoom H4N

Zoom actually makes recorders from as small as the H1, which many have great experience with all the way up to an H6. Personally, it would be between an H4N and an H5 if I did it over again. While the H1 and H2 are great devices, they are harder to grow with since they do not have the XLR inputs you might want.
Go ahead and check out the Zoom H4N here.

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